In the Indian Ocean basin the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are most sensitive to changes in the oceanic depth of the thermocline in the region of the Seychelles Dome. Observational studies have suggested that the strong SST variations in this region influence the atmospheric evolution around the basin, while its impact could extend far into the Pacific and the extra-tropics. Here we study the adjustments of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system to a winter shallow doming event using dedicated ensemble simulations with the state-of-the-art EC-Earth climate model. The doming creates an equatorial Kelvin wave and a pair of westward moving Rossby waves, leading to higher SST 1–2 months later in the Western equatorial Indian Ocean. Atmospheric convection is strengthened and the Walker circulation responds with reduced convection over Indonesia and cooling of the SST in that region. The Pacific warm pool convection shifts eastward and an oceanic Kelvin wave is triggered at thermocline depth. The wave leads to an SST warming in the East Equatorial Pacific 5–6 months after the initiation of the Seychelles Dome event. The atmosphere responds to this warming with weak anomalous atmospheric convection. The changes in the upper tropospheric divergence in this sequence of events create large-scale Rossby waves that propagate away from the tropics along the atmospheric waveguides. We suggest to repeat these types of experiments with other models to test the robustness of the results. We also suggest to create the doming event in June so that the East-Pacific warming occurs in November when the atmosphere is most sensitive to SST anomalies and El Niño could possibly be triggered by the doming event under suitable conditions.
I Manola, FM Selten, W de Ruijter, W Hazeleger. The ocean-atmosphere response to wind-induced thermocline changes in the tropical South Western Indian Ocean
Status: published, Journal: Clim. Dyn., Volume: 45, Year: 2015, First page: 989, Last page: 1007, doi: 10.1007/s00382-014-2338-7